Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan

Update US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures as he walks with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel, May 1, 2024. (REUTERS)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures as he walks with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel, May 1, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 25 June 2024
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Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan

Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan
  • The Middle East remains on edge as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that a coming end to the intense phase of fighting in Gaza would allow Israel to deploy more forces along the northern border with Lebanon
  • Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006 after Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, but the enclave is still deemed as Israeli-occupied territory by the United Nations

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday pressed Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on the need for Israel to swiftly develop a robust post-war plan for Gaza and ensure the tensions with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border do not escalate further.
“He (Blinken) updated Minister Gallant on ongoing diplomatic efforts to advance security, governance, and reconstruction in Gaza during a post-conflict period and emphasized the importance of that work to Israel’s security,” a State Department statement following the meeting said.
Washington has repeatedly urged Israel to craft a realistic post-war plan for Gaza and warned that the absence of it could trigger lawlessness and chaos as well as a comeback by Hamas in the Palestinian territory. Palestinians have previously said only an end to Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state will bring peace.
“He also underscored the importance of avoiding further escalation of the conflict and reaching a diplomatic resolution that allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes,” the State Department added.
The Middle East remains on edge as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that a coming end to the intense phase of fighting in Gaza would allow Israel to deploy more forces along the northern border with Lebanon.
Earlier in June, Hezbollah targeted Israeli towns and military sites with the largest volleys of rockets and drones in the hostilities so far, after an Israeli strike killed the most senior Hezbollah commander yet.
Gallant has been on a trip to Washington, D.C., and has also met Amos Hochstein and Brett McGurk, top aides to President Joe Biden, as well as CIA Director Bill Burns. He is set to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday.
A small group of protesters chanted slogans while holding a Palestinian flag as Gallant, for whom the International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking an arrest warrant, entered the Department building.
The Israeli minister described his meetings in Washington, including the one with Blinken, as “critical,” according to comments released by his office.
“The meetings we are holding are extremely important and impactful on the future of the war in Gaza and our ability to achieve the goals of the war, on developments on the northern border, and other areas,” Gallant said.
Earlier at a news briefing, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Washington hoped to make progress in its talks with Gallant, although said there was still no agreement with Israel on a post-war Gaza plan even as Israel was getting close to ending major combat operations in Rafah.
“We have been quite consistent that for there to be an enduring defeat of Hamas, there needs to be a plan for what replaces them and what replaces that needs to be Palestinian-led governance, needs to be realistic security plans,” Miller said.
“We do not want to see them reoccupy Gaza, which is why we continue to push for an alternative to that,” Miller said.
Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006 after Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, but the enclave is still deemed as Israeli-occupied territory by the United Nations. Israel controls access to Gaza. Hamas has been gaining popularity among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent months.
The war started when Palestinian Hamas militants burst over the border and attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed almost 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has left Gaza in ruins.

 


Lebanon state media says civilians injured in Israeli strike

Lebanon state media says civilians injured in Israeli strike
Updated 6 sec ago
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Lebanon state media says civilians injured in Israeli strike

Lebanon state media says civilians injured in Israeli strike
BEIRUT: An Israeli air strike in Lebanon about 30 kilometers from the border injured civilians on Saturday, Lebanese state media said, after Hezbollah and its Palestinian ally Hamas fired rockets and explosive-laden drones at Israeli positions.
Hezbollah has traded near-daily cross-border fire with Israeli forces in support of Hamas since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on southern Israel triggered war in the Gaza Strip.
“The Israeli enemy launched a raid on the town of Adloun” in south Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency said, adding that “a number of civilians have been injured” and traffic on the highway interrupted in both directions.
Videos circulating online showed several big explosions in the coastal town.
“Shrapnel from the explosions flew to surrounding villages,” the NNA said.
Earlier Saturday, NNA said Syrian nationals, including children, had been injured after an “enemy drone targeted an empty four-wheel drive” near their tent, close to the border.
Doctor Mouenes Kalakesh, who heads the Marjayoun government hospital, said a woman and her three children, two of them minors, had been admitted for shrapnel injuries after the strike outside Burj Al-Muluk.
Among them was an 11-year-old boy in critical condition after he sustained shrapnel injuries and a head wound, Kalakesh told AFP.
Hezbollah said it launched “dozens of Katyusha rockets” on Dafna, an area in Israel’s north that the group said it was targeting for the first time, “in response to the attack on civilians.”
Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said they also fired a rocket salvo from south Lebanon toward an Israeli military position in the Upper Galilee “in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
Later on Saturday, the Iran-backed Hezbollah said it also had launched “explosive-laden drones” targeting “artillery and missile positions” and Israeli troops at a site in the Golan Heights as well as Iron Dome platforms.
Before the drone attack, the Israeli army said a total of 45 “projectiles” had been fired from Lebanon Saturday afternoon, toward the occupied Golan Heights and the Galilee, reporting no casualties.
The army said it struck “the launcher in southern Lebanon from which the projectiles were launched toward the Golan Heights,” also targeting “an additional Hezbollah launcher.”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had warned that his Iran-backed group would hit new targets in Israel if more civilians were killed in Israeli strikes.
Israeli strikes on Thursday killed at least five people in Lebanon, including the commander of a Hamas-allied group, a security source and militant groups said.
The violence since October has killed at least 515 people in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally.
Most of the dead have been fighters, but they have included at least 104 civilians.
On the Israeli side, 18 soldiers and 13 civilians have been killed, according to Israeli authorities.

Israeli jets strike Houthi targets in Yemen in response to attacks, military says

Israeli jets strike Houthi targets in Yemen in response to attacks, military says
Updated 59 min 55 sec ago
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Israeli jets strike Houthi targets in Yemen in response to attacks, military says

Israeli jets strike Houthi targets in Yemen in response to attacks, military says
  • A news outlet run by Houthi militia says the strikes targeted oil facilities and caused fatalities
  • Houthis used a long-range drone to target Tel Aviv on Friday, killing one man and injuring others

AL-MUKALLA: Israeli warplanes struck the Houthi-held western Yemeni city of Hodeidah on Saturday, apparently in retaliation for the Houthi drone strike on Tel Aviv earlier this week.

Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV reported that Israeli planes hit a power plant and a gasoline storage facility, killing and injuring several people.

Images circulating on social media showed a massive ball of fire and thick fog billowing from the targets.

Mohammed Abdul Sallam, the Houthi chief negotiator based in Muscat, said the airstrikes targeted “civilian” facilities to “pressure them to stop supporting Gaza,” vowing to continue attacks on ships and Israel itself until Israel ends its war in the enclave.

“We emphasize that this brutal aggression will only strengthen the determination and steadfastness of the Yemeni people and their valiant armed forces in their support for Gaza,” he said in a post on X.

Other Houthi officials vowed to retaliate. “We will respond more violently and harshly to this Zionist-American orgy,” Abdul Sallam Jahaf, a member of the Houthi Shura Council.

On Friday, the Houthis launched an explosive-laden drone into a Tel Aviv residential area, killing one person and injuring at least 10.

Critics of the militia argue the Houthis will use the bombings to legitimize their rule and crush dissidents in regions under their control.

“An Israeli airstrike is precisely what the #Houthis have long sought to legitimize their power consolidation. This event offers a pretext for increased repression of the population & violence in #Yemen and beyond. The Houthis excel at inviting conflict to sustain their authority,” Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. said on X.


Sudan fire kills nine

Emergency services rescued several people who had been trapped on the ground floor of the building.
Emergency services rescued several people who had been trapped on the ground floor of the building.
Updated 20 July 2024
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Sudan fire kills nine

Emergency services rescued several people who had been trapped on the ground floor of the building.
  • At least four people remain in hospital but are in stable condition, the police said in a statement

PORT SUDAN: Fire tore through an apartment block in Port Sudan killing nine people in the city which the Sudanese army has made its base during fighting with rival paramilitaries, police said Saturday.
Emergency services rescued several people who had been trapped on the ground floor of the building when an electrical short circuit triggered the blaze.
At least four people remain in hospital but are in stable condition, the police said in a statement, without saying when the blaze took place.
Sudan has been gripped by war since April 2023.
The conflict between the regular army under Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has left tens of thousands dead and forced more than 10 million from their homes, according to the United Nations.


US criticizes ICJ opinion on Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories

Israeli security forces close-off a main entrance to Huwara town in the occupied West Bank following attacks by Israeli settlers
Israeli security forces close-off a main entrance to Huwara town in the occupied West Bank following attacks by Israeli settlers
Updated 20 July 2024
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US criticizes ICJ opinion on Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories

Israeli security forces close-off a main entrance to Huwara town in the occupied West Bank following attacks by Israeli settlers
  • “We are concerned that the breadth of the court’s opinion will complicate efforts to resolve the conflict and bring about an urgently needed” peace: State Department

WASHINGTON: The US criticized “the breadth” of the top UN court’s opinion that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal, with Washington saying it would complicate efforts to resolve the conflict.
“We have been clear that Israel’s program of government support for settlements is both inconsistent with international law and obstructs the cause of peace,” a US State Department spokesperson said on Saturday in an email.
“However, we are concerned that the breadth of the court’s opinion will complicate efforts to resolve the conflict,” the State Department added.
The International Court of Justice, or the World Court, said on Friday that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and settlements was illegal and should be ended as soon as possible, delivering its strongest findings to date on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The State Department said the ICJ opinion that Israel must withdraw as soon as possible from the Palestinian territories was “inconsistent with the established framework” for resolving the conflict.
Washington said that framework took into account Israel’s security needs, which it says were highlighted by the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Those attacks killed 1,200, with around 250 people taken as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Two-state solution
The advisory opinion by ICJ judges is not binding but carries weight under international law and may weaken support for Israel.
The State Department said the way forward was through direct negotiations.
“Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the regime associated with them, have been established and are being maintained in violation of international law,” ICJ President Nawaf Salam said on Friday while reading the findings of a 15-judge panel.
The court said Israel’s obligations include paying restitution for harm and “the evacuation of all settlers from existing settlements.”
Israel rejected the opinion and said a political settlement can only be reached through negotiations. The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the opinion, which it called historic.
The State Department said it “strongly discourages” parties from using the ICJ opinion “as a pretext for further unilateral actions that deepen divisions or for supplanting a negotiated two-state solution.”
The ICJ case stems from a 2022 request for a legal opinion from the United Nations General Assembly. It predates Israel’s war in Gaza, which began after the Oct. 7 attacks and has killed almost 39,000, according to the health ministry in Gaza, which has been under Hamas rule, while causing a hunger crisis, displacing Gaza’s nearly entire 2.3 million people and spurring genocide allegations that Israel denies.
The ICJ opinion said the UN Security Council, the General Assembly and all states have an obligation not to recognize the occupation as legal nor “render aid or assistance” toward maintaining Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem — which the Palestinians want for a state — in the Six-Day War in 1967 and has since built and expanded settlements in the West Bank. 


Hezbollah, Hamas say launched rocket salvos at north Israel

Smoke rises from a fire after Hezbollah fired a barrage of projectiles towards Israel from Lebanon.
Smoke rises from a fire after Hezbollah fired a barrage of projectiles towards Israel from Lebanon.
Updated 20 July 2024
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Hezbollah, Hamas say launched rocket salvos at north Israel

Smoke rises from a fire after Hezbollah fired a barrage of projectiles towards Israel from Lebanon.
  • Hezbollah said it launched “dozens of Katyusha rockets” on Dafna, an area in Israel’s north, “in response to the attack on civilians”

BEIRUT: Hezbollah and its Palestinian ally Hamas said they launched rocket barrages at Israeli positions Saturday to avenge a strike that injured civilians in south Lebanon and the Gaza war toll.
Hezbollah has traded near-daily fire with Israeli forces in support of Hamas since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on southern Israel triggered war in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier Saturday, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said Syrian nationals, including children, had been injured after an “enemy drone targeted an empty four-wheel drive” near their tent, less than four kilometers from the border.
Doctor Mouenes Kalakesh who heads the Marjayoun government hospital said a woman and her three children, two of them minors, had been admitted for shrapnel injuries after the strike outside Burj Al-Muluk.
Among them was an 11-year-old boy in critical condition after he sustained shrapnel injuries and a head wound, Kalakesh told AFP.
Hezbollah said it launched “dozens of Katyusha rockets” on Dafna, an area in Israel’s north that the group said it was targeting for the first time, “in response to the attack on civilians.”
On Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had warned his Iran-backed group would hit new targets in Israel if more civilians were killed in Israeli strikes.
Later Saturday, Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said they fired a rocket salvo from south Lebanon toward an Israeli military position in the Upper Galilee “in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
The Israeli army said a total of 45 “projectiles” had been fired from Lebanon Saturday afternoon, toward the occupied Golan Heights and the Galilee, reporting no casualties.
The army said it struck “the launcher... in southern Lebanon from which the projectiles were launched toward the Golan Heights,” also targeting “an additional Hezbollah launcher.”
On Thursday, Israeli strikes killed at least five people, including the commander of a Hamas-allied group in Lebanon, militant groups and a security source said.
On Tuesday, Lebanese official media said separate Israeli strikes in south Lebanon killed five Syrians, three of them children, with Hezbollah announcing rocket fire at Israel in retaliation.
The violence since October has killed at least 515 people in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally.
Most of the dead have been fighters, but they have included at least 104 civilians.
On the Israeli side, 18 soldiers and 13 civilians have been killed, according to Israeli authorities.